Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, January 20, 2017

Children See Violence As Normal

By: Perla Miranda & Alejandra Canchola | Translated by Valor for Borderland Beat

Previously, on the streets of Mexico, children would play with spinning tops, marbles, doctor or police, they got along together and assumed roles that were constructive and functional in a peaceful society; today, given the climate in which violence prevails, they must learn to be victims or aggressors and have modified their behavior to use their creativity in actions that make them feel safe, according to specialists in the human rights of children.

Nelia Tello, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a specialist in intervention models among young people, explained that children are influenced by a violent environment that internalize it as if it were something natural, “[it] doesn’t cause them any surprise, it’s the world in which they were born in and in which they develop,” she said.  She added that minors can create two sense of defense: being aggressive or tolerant to violent acts.

The first case has to do with those children who, when witnessing any kind of violence, become anxious and this feeling of uncertainty causes them fear, which in turn makes them aggressive even when no one is bothering them.

This social violence that is seen in the media, assaults and deaths, is affecting their customs of everyday life; then, they are incited to defend themselves and they become very aggressive, all the while they are waiting for others to attack them and they prepare themselves to defend,” she explained.

On the other hand are children who learn to tolerate violence, who are educated under a system of overprotection that don’t learn to live together and live in isolation.

That is why, according to Tello, violence has become a means in which children have to survive and for that, they create different social skills.

At 11 years old, Juan David Hernández designed a backpack that serves to protect himself from the shootings and robberies that occur every day in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, the city in which he lives in.

At a state-level science fair, he explained that his backpack has a bullet-proof vest, an alarm, a lamp, and a GPS system that connects to his parents’ phone.

He said that because of the crime that prevails in his community and that shootings are a daily occurrence, the backpack he created is very useful.  He assured that in case of an emergency, children can get on the floor as they have been taught to do by the Civil Protection and cover their head and back with the backpack in order to avoid a stray bullet from hitting them.

Silvia Novoa, director of the World Vision Organization in Mexico, said that children are not born violent, but learn to be aggressors because they replicate what they see in adults or in the places where they grow up in.  She said that before, children used their creativity to play, but now, they do it to defend themselves or to attack others.

She mentioned that this has to do with the fact that violence in the country has been glorified and that that generates children who yearn to be a part of the ranks of organized crime and satisfy their sense of belonging, coupled with that so they can access various luxuries; this also causes minors to fear growing up, because they feel more vulnerable to being recruited by criminal gangs.

Experts on children’s rights agree that violence has not only changed behavior in terms of security or the daily chores of adult society, but now it will become common for minors to be concerned about safeguarding their own lives.

Nashely Ramírez, coordinator of Ririki Intervención Social and an expert in education, said that the impact of violence on children has important consequences in society.  “The changes that security has had in Mexico are reflected even in their daily activities since in addition to attending school or playing, they plan solutions that protect them from shootings.”

She added that this is the result of the parents’ estrangement, because due to their working life, they can’t spend the necessary time with them nor control the content of the messages to which they are exposed to in their everyday lives.

In regards to the way in which Mexico has changed for the children in the matter of security, she affirmed that it has done it in two aspects:  the first is the little time that parents dedicate themselves to their children because of the rhythm of life, almost always for work matters; while the second aspect that has changed the reality of children is globalization and the use of new communication technologies that, in the absence of parents, lack regulation and interpretation accompanied by their use and meaning.

She clarified that the regulation of violent content in the media does not imply “an attack on freedom of expression,” instead, it’s about “how they regulate the contents of high violence that will inevitably be exposed to children.”

Regarding the actions that society and government must take to solve this growing problem, she said that Mexico’s biggest deficit in this area lies in social support and development strategies.

She said that the erroneous idea is maintained that when talking about psychological counseling, it is referred to as “talking about a sickness” and this paradigm not only dominates social culture, but also government strategies: “There isn’t a policy that incorporates mental health in its individual and collective part.”

She emphasized that among the successful measures of the Ministry of Public Education (SEP), is the full-time school program, which uses collective learning to ensure that children develop their day in a safe environment.  She added that measures to prevent them from knowing that they grow up in unsafe environments should be national in scope, but also assisted locally.

Source: El Universal


  1. Just like the kids growing up in the US in the 70s, 80s, and very early 90s. It was normal to hear gun battles at night and witnesse gangs blocking off roads.

    1. Oh ya, and where was this??? Lol

    2. Los angeles, chicago, fucking book before looking like a dumb ass with your lame attempt at humor

  2. I feel bad for all the states except Sinaloa and tamaulipas because now that El chapo gone los zetas and cjng will take over every state , the only state they won't be able to take over is sinaloa and tamaulipas

    1. Those states are too complicated and are not worth taking over. There is already a bunch of competition and killings on those states. Only a dummy would want to take it over. I guarantee that the government's is making way for a new cartel and it's not in tamaulipas or Sinaloa. Think about it.. Why are those states out of control and a bunch of federales and soldiers are killing and capturing zetas and in Sinaloa cds? Cds and zetas are the past. That's exacly what happened when la familia got dismantleled in michoacan. Mark my words. -El Mr. Obvious-

    2. PRI supports zetas. Is better it will benthe Mexico from the 90s/80s

    3. You guys even READ the article?

  3. Like the Old School saying goes, You don't see nothing, Hear nothing, Say nothing.

  4. Sad,I hate to see the consequences of phychologically damaged children in another 10 years since the violence ramped up 10 years ago especially in the more violent states like Guerrero.

    1. Real world all over the world. I keep my pistol handy all the time

  5. so i guess when they get to the US our schools will have to provide not only ESL classes but therapy classes?

  6. Mexico needs a strong president who will clean house within and abroad. A face who stands for dignity and respect not only to its country but the world. A powerful figure to make Mexico safe , eradicating poverty , violence and drug cartels.

  7. The article identifies a serious problem from mostly a psychotherapy clinical perspective, i.e. "children psychologically affected children by violence in their environments"

    The topic of children growing up in violent environments is HUGE and must include a host of other elements and factors to better understand the problem and the things might help solve the problem.

    I realize the article is a short report meant for lay readers, but it at least should mention the need for awareness of other things hurting children in Mexico besides violence in their immediate environments pe se. Safe schools? OK. More involved parents? Yeah.

    Now, what about what it does to kids exposed to earthy language and antisocial ideas gotten from peers and significant others like: thugs,whores,thieves, halftones, smugglers, liars,cheats, and oung gang members. Collectively, over time, these kinds of "others" will make teachers, therapists, priests, etc pale by comparison as positive change agents for significant numbers.

    For me, until discussions of what hurts kids growing up in violent Mexican environments includes topics remote from school and home.

    I will pose one little scenario type question and leave it there: Jose and Maria are 4th graders who have grown up knowing about putas, thieves,smugglers, drug addict and their drugs, sicarios, and gang members. By 4th grade they know narco-corridos and can identify guns and artifacts linked to crime. In some places, by this age, they may have heard many cuentos maybe seen and smelled gruesome realities.

    By 4th grade, they may have already made important personality adjustments to deal with things teachers and university psychologists are powerless to deal with except with "sound good" palliatives that will only help a few.

    In America, Black ghetto kids have been growing up as above in Mexico. Same thing in places like Brazil's favelas, Venezuela's and Nicaragua's barrios, etc. where life is harsh and brutal.

    People, don't expect changes of any consequence from what the university people are doing.... Mexico is so thoroughly fuked up it does not know what to do without upsetting the cozy system for those in power. Programs like those suggested is like putting a band aids on the cuts of corpses.

  8. You have to learn to protect ur self in todays world.nobody else will
    Cannot trust polica in mexico

  9. Excellent translation, thank you.


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